Overcoming Fears, Taking Risks

Almost everything is a risk, including just being alive. Without taking some risk we would not grow and thrive.

Without risk, life would be too predictable, mundane, and boring. Some risks are dangerous, others are necessary.

To be successful at risk taking we need to take control of our risk behaviour. Risking means taking a course of action with an unpredictable outcome. Fear of the unknown sometimes holds us back from risking what we should consider. Risk carries a chance of failure; and also the possibility of great success. We risk because we hope to gain something, whether love, excitement or financial reward.

To understand why risk is necessary, pause for a moment and ask yourself: “What risks do I regret not having taken?”

Steps to Successful Risk Management

Recognizing the desire to make a change and the goals for the change. You may have become so bored and frustrated with your job or your life that you have become passive and careless. You might also be so tired of being in “unequal” or abusive relationship that you just cannot tolerate it any longer.

Making the decision to move forward. Even when very unhappy, people may feel paralyzed by fear. Typically, fear will prevent forward momentum until the discomfort of not moving forward becomes greater than the fear. At this point, the fear will seem less threatening and a decision to make a change occurs.

Planning the change. Planning is the key to successful risk taking management. Identifying alternatives and considering likely consequences will boost creativity and assist in confidently deciding on a course of action.

Following through on the decision. Once you have carefully planned and decided, you need to follow through with the planned change(s) and persevere even when you encounter obstacles and challenges.

The Fear Factor

Fear is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success. Since risking requires facing potential failure, people whose self-esteem is high generally have less fear and handle setbacks, or the thought of them, better than those who dislike themselves. Building strong self-esteem is a first step to being able to make risking behaviour more successful.

Healthy vs. Dangerous Risks

Most of the risks we take in life are positive, ultimately producing growth and learning. Some examples of healthy risks are reaching out for love, self-improvement risks such as returning to school, or stretching ourselves to meet a challenge. Some risks are unhealthy or unsafe. Empty risks are ones that endanger you or others, without much chance of a useful payoff.

Improving Risking Skills

Counselling is a good setting to conquer fears and practice taking manageable risks. For some people, entering therapy seems like a big risk. Counselling is the beginning of becoming more confident, with healthy and self-improvement risks.

Some people are risk aversive, seeming to be unable to take any chances at all. The idea of risking paralyzes them with fear. Because they find risk difficult, they are often unable to grow, and may become psychologically rigid and unbalanced.

In counselling sessions, people can come to understand how pessimistic perceptions have been holding them back, and learn strategies for overcoming fears. A counsellor will be able to help focus on gains, rather than the potential for loss, and provide a place to discuss and practice learned risk taking skills.

At the extreme of risk taking are daredevils. These are people who seek taking unsafe risks that put themselves and others in dangerous situations for the sake of adventure. Reckless risk taking is often seen as a normal part of adolescent development, though it does not have to be. In adults, dangerous risk taking usually suggests difficulties such as low self-esteem, high need for attention, or subconscious self-destructive thought patterns.

Counselling helps daredevils and adventure seekers to gain a realistic perspective and focus on both the causes and the consequences of their behaviour so that they can resolve underlying fears and self-image obstacles. It may often save lives.